Shofar is an instrument made from the horn of a ram or other kosher animal with the marrow removed. Blow into a shofar, and you get a shofar blast. It was used in ancient Israel to announce the New Moon, beginning and the end of Sabbath and other Holy days.

 
















 

Trumpeting Stone


During the Second Jerusalem Temple period the southwestern corner of the Temple platform was designated as the place of the trumpeting from which the priests would announce the beginning and the end of the Shabbat and religious holidays by blowing the shofar or trumpet. The spot for trumpeting was selected to make sure that the sound of shofar could be heard throughout Jerusalem and in the Upper City, modern day location of the Western Hill or Mount Zion, where aristocracy and priestly families resided.

The short period of time in the history of Jerusalem from 26 BCE to 70 CE proved to be some of the best and the worst times in the tumultuous biography the Holy City. It began with the monumental renovation of the Temple Mount by Herod the Great and ended with the complete destruction of entire city when the Roman army under the command of General Titus burned it down to the ground after a two year siege.

After the Second Jewish Revolt, the Romans wanted to eradicate any remnants of the Jewish presence from Jerusalem. So much so that not even the huge stones of the Temple platform were not spared and toppled to the pavement. Over the centuries tons of accumulated rubble blanketed the street to the point that until a few decades ago archeologists were not even aware of its existence. It was discovered in 1968 by renowned Israeli archeologist Benjamin Mazar during his excavations around the southern and western walls of the Temple Mount.

Trumpeting Stone

                                       The Trumpeting Stone With Inscription in Hebrew

When the rubble was cleared out from the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount and the Herodian street was revealed, among hundreds of Herodian period stones, one eight foot stone stood out featuring the formal inscription "to the place of trumpeting". The shape of the stone suggests that it was part of the parapet that once ran across the Southern Wall of the Temple platform. The last word in the inscription is partially missing and one could interpret it as in either "to declare" (the Sabbath) or "to distinguish" (between the sacred and the profane).

According to the writings of the contemporary historian Josephus in his work the Jewish War this was the location: "above the roof of the priest chambers, at the point where it was the custom for one of the priests to stand and give notice by sound of trumpet, in the afternoon of the approach, and of the following evening of the close, of every seventh day, announcing to the people the respective hours for ceasing work and for resuming their labor".

The Temple priest would identify the trumpeting spot with the help of inscription and blow the shofar three times with one hour intervals. The first sound of shofar one would hear two hours before the start of Shabbat, so the farmers could begin walking home. One hour before the beginning of Shabbat the priest would blow the shofar for the second time to alert the store owners around the city that it's time to close up. The third and final shofar sound would be heard at the time of the actual beginning of Shabbat. The priest would also announce the end of the Sabbath in the similar fashion as he would beginning and end of religious festivals.

For the sake of the preservation, the original Trumpeting Stone currently resides at the Israel Museum and it's replica was placed at the exact location of the Herodian street at Jerusalem Archeological Park where it was found.